Many Christians struggle in regard to their responsibility as a believer after they get saved. Some Christians believe that once they get saved, they don’t have to do anything with their salvation, except “sit on it”. They believe that their salvation has been eternally secured, and consequently, they don’t have to put in any work at all. They can just live however they want to live, don’t have to live up to any standards of holiness, don’t have to set themselves apart from the world and don’t have to conquer the presence of sin in their lives. All they believe they are required to do is just wait idly by for Jesus to return and whisk them off to heaven, where they can spend the rest of their days living happily ever after.
On the contrary, there are other Christians who believe that once they get saved, they have to somehow “secure” their salvation by making sure they do a lot of religious works, lest they will “lose” their salvation or have it be stripped from them. These individuals overload themselves with ministerial and religious duties, therefore, they never truly get to enjoy their Christian experience nor their intimate, personal relationship with God. They are always under compulsion that they have to preach, evangelize, lead a lost soul to Christ, host countless church conferences, pray, fast, and read their Bible all day, every day, in order to win God’s approval. They try to live perfect Christian lives, perceiving that if they make any mistakes, God will mercilessly cast them away into hell. They beat themselves up when they sin, and live their whole lives constantly battling with guilt, self-condemnation, fear, doubt and unbelief.
The former half, due to their misunderstanding, have abused grace, while the latter half, due to their misunderstanding, have not truly received grace.
Philippians 2:12 says: “Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, continue to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
In this context, the term “work out” does not mean to “secure”, or to “work for” your salvation. It means to “exercise” your salvation.
Exercise is defined as: “activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness.”
We can not do anything to secure our own salvation, or work for our own salvation. And if it were possible that we could earn our own salvation, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to die. But due to our sinful and imperfect nature, we will always fall short of the glory of God. Our self-righteous deeds is of filthy rags unto God (Isaiah 64:6). Our salvation can only be secured by the grace [unmerited favor] of God through our faith [in the finished work of Christ on Calvary], not by our works [religious effort], lest any of us should boast in ourselves (Ephesians 2:8-9).
In summary, brethren, there is more to salvation than just believing in your heart and confessing with your mouth the Lord Jesus. Our Christian walk requires a little more effort on our behalf than just that. Now, although Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we don’t have to do anything to work FOR, or to secure our salvation (that’s already taken care of), we do have a responsibility, according to Philippians 2:12 to work OUT, or to exercise our salvation. That means, it is our job to get stronger in our own Christian walk by intentionally practicing righteousness, practicing obedience to God’s word, practicing denying our fleshly desires, practicing walking in the fruit of the Spirit, etc. This is the only way we can live victorious lives in this world as believers.
It’s the same thing as working out in the gym. You don’t work out to get muscles, but to strengthen and build the muscles that you already have. Likewise, you don’t work out to receive salvation, but to mature and grow in your salvation.
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